We settled in to Rainbow Plantations in Summerdale AL and watched the weather deteriorate.  We had planned to stay 3 days, long enough for our mail to catch up with us and see family in Fairhope. Our hopes to get together with Joy and family did not work out.  As we thought about moving on west, a check of the weather convinced us that staying put for three more days would avoid our driving into the fierce storm that was blanketing the south to the west of us (and headed our way) and was part of the massive system that was shutting down air travel and roads to the north and east of us. We had already ducked horrendous sleet and ice on the road from Florida to Alabama by being “stuck” near Sanford Fl.  We stayed and endured the rains and (relative) cold in the safety of a comfortable campground.

Our route west took us to a new stopping place, Frog City RV Park. just west of Lafayette, LA.  I would certainly recommend this for an overnight or even a few days even though it is adjacent to a truck stop just off I 10.  The noise did not disturb us and the place was neat and clean with sites more than adequate for us to pull in and stay with our Jeep attached for an easy departure the next day. While there we encountered an extreme example of something I experienced mostly in my work.  We met a neighbor who was new to RVing and offered some suggestions of support clubs they might join such as Escapees.  The men (husband and brother-in-law) went to the casino and the wife invited herself to a tour of our coach.  Over the next 30  minutes or so she unloaded her entire life history from a family of addicted people to her career in counseling  to their abrupt decision to sell everything and take up full time RVing with no preamble.  Carol and I were breathless and speechless when she took her whirlwind of tzouris (yiddish for troubles) back to her coach. I have witnessed this kind of “unloading” as I said mostly in my work as a Financial Planner, but also when meeting new people in campgrounds, but seldom in such depth and such a dysfunctional story.  We were not unhappy that they were headed east as we headed west.

We moved on the next day to Rainbow’s End in Livingston TX.  We had three objectives, pick up mail, get the vehicles inspected and VOTE.  Our first vote in Texas and early voting opens the day we plan to leave.  We hope to vote in the morning before we leave.  Our primary vote will be important as there are very few Democrats in these parts.  The other objectives are already taken care of.  We had a great walk around Lake Livingston State Park and a nice dinner out at Pueblo Viejo.  If you are ever in Livingston (I cannot imagine what would bring anyone not a member of Escapees here) and you want to dine out, this may be best option.  There is an Italian place that gets a better rating in Trip Advisor, but Italian in semi rural Texas?

Tech: Since our travel in the Fall we have become rather adept with Skype Video and Google Hangouts, it lets us see the grandkids and get a tour of the construction at Malena and Dan’s.  We put up with the occasional dropouts caused by variable wireless connection for the fun of the video. We have satellite TV, somehow I seem to always park with a tree between our antenna and the satellite we need.  Right now I am shadowed by one small limb, but it hardly seems worth shifting everything so I see how many channels of nothing to watch I can get.  We bought a Roku to watch Netflix (and many other channels) so we have much more, nothing to watch, and some movies.  Unfortunately bandwidth for the movies is sometimes a problem, we need to be in a place with excellent Verizon LTE and be sure the phone is fully charged and plugged in before starting a movie.  I am also learning  more than I want to know about licensing of programs by item and by geography.

On the Move, Finally

Yesterday, Tuesday February 4, my sister’s birthday, all the parts were available and so was a bay.  Nathan had us in the service bay by 10 AM and and we left La Mesa RV Sanford for the third and final time at 5 PM. I must give special thanks to Nathan and the staff at La Mesa RV.  None of the delay was their doing and once they had the parts they got it all done and it seems to be well done so far.  As we returned to Wekiva River RV Park we were debating whether to stay another day or plan to roll in the morning.  We rolled, enough itchy tire syndrome, time to be on the move.

But where to make our first stop.  Looking over our options I noticed a monthly email bulletin from Harvest Hosts in my inbox.  I remembered that there were several members along our proposed route on I 10.  A quick check of the directory map from their website showed a couple of probables.  One is Golden Acres Ranch which we stopped at last Spring (May 2 to be exact).  It is 10 miles north of I 10 and I remembered that following the gps to get there might be a mistake.  We called and Fred said “sure, what time should look for you.”  We set off with expectation of arriving between 3 and 4.  This did not take into account the longest fuel stop either of us can remember,  Access to the only diesel pump was blocked by a car whose operator was in the shop shopping, apparently he never heard of pulling away from the pump after fueling.  We waited at least 10 minutes, when I asked him to move his car before finishing his shopping he grumped at me, oh well.  Once we got to the pump it became clear we would be there a very long time.  We needed just under 80 gallons of diesel and it took 30 minutes to pump it.  We will not ever stop at a Marathon station again with the coach, it is better to pay a few cents a gallon more and be on our way.

We arrived at Golden Acres Ranch at 4:45 in the afternoon.  We were warmly welcomed by both Fred and Bobbie.  Bobbie and her daughter-in-law were completing the afternoon chores feeding all the animals.  Fred helped spot us and then showed us what was available in the shop.  I will be leaving here with some fresh frozen local lamb and we will also have several jellies made by Bobbie. Unfortunately I don’t think there will be any mayhaw jelly as last years harvest was a bust, read my post from May 2, 2013 for details. Fred says this year has promise of a good crop.  Not sure when we are likely to get back here, but I am sure we will.

Oh about the gps directions.  The software in the coach thinks that there is a street called Longleaf that gets to the ranch from the north.  Well there is, sort of, I don’t think the jeep could get through, it never was a road.  I thought I had it figured right this time, but no we came to the ranch the hard way again.  Maybe another year we will approach from right off US 19 onto Barnes.  That is a reminder for me and a note for anyone trying to get here. That will result in a really tough right turn into the driveway and I want to remember to cross the centerline to give myself room for the turn.

Not sure if we go all the way to Summerdale AL tomorrow or dawdle just a bit along the coast.  We will know soon enough.

Murphy Continues to have Fun with Us

For some reason we have had a collision of problems that have kept us pinned down in Sanford FL, yes “Stand Your Ground” Sanford.  We stayed one night at the Sanford Elks Lodge and met some delightful people in the bar.  The next morning as we prepared to leave for our appointment at La Mesa RV to have the seal repaired I noticed that the gas cap from the Jeep was missing, presumably stolen as it had a been there the day before when we fueled and it is fastened to the Jeep by a strap which was still there.

We arrived at La Mesa and met with Nathan, our service adviser.  He had the heater controller card for the water heater in hand and proceeded with that installation while examining the seal.  It needs to be replaced and their parts department only had a 21 foot piece and we need 28 feet.  I agreed to pay for expedited delivery since it was Friday and that should have it in hand on Monday, Tuesday latest.  At that point we moved the coach to Wekiva River RV Resort about 6 miles away for the weekend.  We drove back to St Petersburg in the Jeep to pick up the remaining part we needed for the water heater which Arthur had called to tell us was in.  Whew now we have everything in place to be underway by Tuesday, Wednesday latest.  So why am I writing this in the La Mesa RV Cafe on February 1?  One could blame the supplier for incompetence, they decided NOT to ship it expedited.  They put it on a truck which never made it out of Atlanta until Friday, January 31, because of the weather.  The good news is that we have been stuck in the warmest place we could have been this past week.  We have had an opportunity to explore an area of Florida we might never have thought about visiting.  We like the RV park we are in, the price not so much.

Monday, Murphy tracked us down again.  We had been having some reduced water flow issues and I had pulled the aerators off all the faucets and found fine gravel in them, especially the kitchen sink which gets the heaviest use.  Finally removing the aerator on the kitchen sink did not restore the flow and I saw black fine sand in the toilet bowl.  It dawned on me that the source of black fine sand had to be the whole house carbon filter.  Clearly in the freeze at Covesville it had had a small internal rupture. When I pulled it Monday morning I found it leaking carbon.  Great! but how do I restore the flow in the kitchen sink? Some basic troubleshooting pointed me to the diverter valve which switches between the sprayer and the tap.  I was getting much more flow through the sprayer, ah a workaround.  I called Pfister customer service and told them my tale of woe.  Not the least being the video for how to remove the diverter was not working on their web site.  I pulled the diverter and cleaned it according to the directions and flow was restored to 50%.  Another call and the part was on order under warrantee, but I paid for 2nd day delivery. The part didn’t show at the campground office when expected or the next day, but I wasn’t going anyplace anyhow. By the third day I was getting upset, I finally got the UPS tracking number which showed it had been delivered and signed for two days before!  It was not in the office, so at their suggestion, I went to the store and found it there addressed to Paul Gobderg, close! The replacement took 5 minutes and flow was fully restored.

Still waiting, the seal has not arrived and it is almost 3 PM on Saturday, back to the campground as soon as they finish with the water heater.  Oh, I didn’t mention, the tech broke the new part while installing it šŸ™ šŸ™ They have pulled a part off a coach in the lot to hold us over the weekend and will finish the job next week when we come back to have the seal installed, assuming it was ever actually shipped.

Still have a smile on my face, I don’t need to be anyplace else yet.  I guess we will blow through the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in a couple of days on our way to Texas. Fortunately we have explored much of the territory and don’t feel we will be missing much.  Of course this all assumes Mr Murphy has had enough fun with us.  For the non RVers reading this none of this is more than irritating taken as individual happenings.  Other than the seal, all of the problems stem from spending time in temperatures below 10 F which is really rare for us.  The water heater initial failure was a switch that stuck in the on position and caused the plastic housing to distort from the heat, problems cascaded from there.  Likewise the filter failure lead to a lesser cascade of failure.

Time to go enjoy.